Few credit cards offer unlimited 2.5% cash back on all spending without caps or complicated category restrictions. Alliant Credit Union recently rolled out its Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card, which may very well be the “holy grail” of unlimited cash back cards.
Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card gives cardholders unlimited 3% cash back during the first year; 2.5% cash back afterwards This card does have a $59 annual fee, waived the first year.
Alliant Credit Union is an online credit union that anyone can join. If you don’t meet the standard credit union qualifying criteria (being a relative of a member or working for a select organization), you can join by making a $10 donation to Foster Care to Success.
If you choose to apply for this card, be sure to swipe it as much as possible during the first year to make the most of the unlimited 3% cash back. This is a great deal.
Aside from the $59 annual fee, waived the first year, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card has extra costs within the card terms that are pretty typical of any credit card.
Most notably, there’s a balance transfer fee of 3% of the amount of each transfer. There is no foreign transaction fee.
Redeeming Your Cash Back
You can redeem cash back earned through statement credit when your cash back balance reaches $25. Cash back expires after five years. Cash back also expires if your credit card account is closed voluntarily or involuntarily.
We highly recommend the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card if you hate keeping up with revolving category cards. Category rules can be a pain. This card makes earning cash back painless.
On the other hand, if you’re someone who likes using category cards (airline, grocery, gas, etc.), this card also partners nicely with others. Keep it in your wallet to maximize rewards in areas that your category cards don’t cover.
Alliant Credit Union has very lenient member-qualifying criteria, so non-members can join today. If you already have an Alliant Credit Union card, call credit card services to request an upgrade.
Cardholders report that you can get approved with a score in the high 600s, although credit card services states qualification is based on more than just your credit score.
For example, you may qualify for this card with less-than-perfect credit if your income is high. Since this is a Visa Signature card, credit limits are higher than traditional cards, and that requires having enough income to support a good-sized limit.
We like this card a lot because it’s one of few credit cards that give you 2% cash back without a long list of rules on what you can and can’t buy.
Until now, the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer has been our top recommendation for no-fuss 2% cash back on all spending. However, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card is giving the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer some stiff competition.
The 3% cash back without an annual fee the first year is very hard to beat. And if you spend at least $1,000 per month on the card after year one, 2.5% cash back with the annual fee still outperforms the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
We’ll discuss why the magic number for spending is $1,000 in our credit card comparison below.
There’s not too much to discuss that’s negative about this card. The one thing to be mindful of is that it does not have an interest-free intro deal on new purchases or balance transfers.
This means you shouldn’t take out this card intending to go on a crazy shopping spree or to finance big life events like a wedding, relocating, or traveling unless there’s a repayment plan in the strategy.
You’ll get a great deal of cash back from large purchases the first 12 months, but you need to pay off the balance promptly to avoid many interest charges.
We started out this post mentioning that there aren’t too many unlimited 2%+ cash back cards available, so let’s dive into the three main alternatives:
- Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
- Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer
The Citi Double Cash card is usually our “go-to” pick for unlimited 2% cash back with no category restrictions.
The Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card clearly has the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer beat in the first year. Things get a little less clear-cut when the AAlliant Cashback Visa® Signature Cardhas an $59 annual fee, waived the first year.
As mentioned, when taking the fee into consideration, you need to spend over $1,000 per month on the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card to earn more from it than the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
Here’s the calculation breakdown:
- Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer: $12,000 (spent) x 2% (cash back) = $240
- Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card: $12,000 (spent) x 2.5% = $300 – $59 (fee) = $241
The more you spend beyond $12,000 per year, the more the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card outperforms the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card
The Fidelity® Rewards Visa Signature® Card card lets you earn an unlimited 2% cash back on everyday purchases., but this card comes with conditions. You can only earn 2% cash back when you direct deposit rewards into a Fidelity Investment account. The annual fee is $0.
This is still a decent deal for Fidelity Investment customers. If you plan to spend less than $12,000 per year on your rewards card, consider this one or the Citi® Double Cash Card – 18 month BT offer.
Yes, the Alliant Cashback Visa® Signature Card cash back rewards expire after 5 years, and you also forfeit your unused rewards if you close your account. It’s important to note that cash back doesn’t expire exactly 5 years from the date you earn it. Cash back rewards expire on a rolling, annual basis; cash back earned in a calendar year will expire on the December cycle date of the fourth calendar year in which it was earned. For example, any unredeemed cash back earned in 2018 will expire on the December cycle date in 2023.
Anything over 1.5% cashback is a good deal. There are some cards that offer more — as much as 5 or 6% cash back on purchases. But sometimes those offers are too good to be true. Banks don’t like to lose money, and will pepper the fine print with all sorts of limitations. For example, they may offer 5% cash back on only purchases at certain types of retailers and only for certain periods of time. And those categories may change every quarter, which can make it hard to keep track.
Don’t let those cash back promises pressure you into spending more than you can afford. If you don’t pay your statement balance in full each month, you could get slapped with sky high interest charges. That would totally negate any benefit you might get from earning cash back. Cash back cards are only valuable if you can pay your bill in full and capture the entirety of your cash back rewards.
It depends on the card. Some cards allow you redeem cash back dollar for dollar as a statement credit, which can help lower your total balance. Just keep in mind that applying cash back to your card statement does not count as a monthly payment. Other cards will increase the value of your cash back if you spend on certain categories, like travel. Review your terms carefully to be sure you’re getting the most bang for your buck.
Find the card that fits your day-to-day spending needs best, beyond the flashy sign-up bonus offers and cash back promises. Pay your bill in full each month (spend only what you can afford to pay off).
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